National Library eBooks

The National Library of Australia's electronic books (eBooks) are available as free downloads.

Cook & Omai: The Cult of the South Seas

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Discover one man’s journey across half the world, from his home in Tahiti to London in the 1770s and then back again. This publication provides a key to understanding the significance of James Cook’s three Pacific voyages and the cultural milieu in which they occurred.

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Paradise Possessed: The Rex Nan Kivell Collection

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This series of essays provides fascinating insights into the National Library of Australia’s extraordinary Rex Nan Kivell Collection, one of the world’s most remarkable and valuable library collections of historical artworks, books, maps and manuscripts. Contributors to the book include Sasha Grishin, Bernard Smith and John Thompson.

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Changing Coastlines: Putting Australia on the World Map, 1493–1993

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Changing Coastlines examines Australia’s cartographic history. The publication reminds us of the importance of maps, not only as locators of places but also for what they tell us today about the perceptions of Australia in the minds of those who created and used them.

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Gold Fever! Life on the Diggings, 1851–1855

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Gold Fever! tells the experiences of the men and women who flocked to the Australian goldfields in the early 1850s. The publication deals with the earliest phase of the Australian gold-rushes, beginning with Edward Hammond Hargraves’ discovery of gold near Bathurst, New South Wales, in February 1851. By 1855, at the end of the period treated in Gold Fever!, the eastern Australian colonies had been transformed by the search for gold.

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Hurley's Australia: Myth, Dream, Reality

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During the golden age of the 1950s, Frank Hurley (1885–1962)—photographer, film maker and adventurer—travelled across Australia, creating a visual archive of the nation’s vast landscape, modern cities, industrial strength and agricultural riches. This book contains a selection of Hurley’s Australian photography drawn from the extensive collection of his work held by the National Library of Australia.

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Augustus Earle: Travel Artist

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Augustus Earle (1793–1838) was born to travel and to paint. Living in the era before photography, Earle was one of the world’s most irrepressible travel artists. His paintings are valuable both as works of art and as documentary records of historic and ethnographic significance. This publication gives an overview of some of Earle’s most significant works held by the National Library of Australia.

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The World Upside Down: Australia 1788-1830

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The World Upside Down: Australia 1788-1830 draws on the National Library of Australia’s collections to explore some of the many fascinating aspects of life and art in colonial Australia.


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Travellers Art

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Travellers Art presents rare, late eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century drawings, watercolours, sketchbooks, diaries, hand-drawn maps, manuscripts and photographs, all of which were created while travelling. Selected from the National Library's collections for their first-hand immediacy and fidelity to the subject, they are the personal narratives of travelling artists, diarists and explorers.

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Faces of Mandurama

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Taken over a period of possibly 20 years or so, the photographs in Faces of Mandurama provide a detailed portrait of an Australian country community. The images cover many different aspects of life during the 1890s and early 1900s, including sporting events, picnics, the mechanisation of farming, mining, civic life, education and the transition from horses and buggies to the motor car.

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Arcadian Quest: William Westall's Australian Sketches

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The William Westall images reproduced in this book represent a cross-section of the National Library of Australia's We stall collection of pencil and watercolour sketches and engravings. Also included are three oil paintings from the Ministry of Defence Art Collection, London. Unless stated otherwise, all images are by William Westall (1781—1850) and are from the National Library of Australia.

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Beyond the Picket fence

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The works selected from the collections of the National Library for Beyond the picket fence demonstrate the skill and versatility of women artists over the past two hundred years. They applied their talents to depict their wide-ranging interest

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Australia's Timeless Gardens

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Australia's Timeless Gardens is a celebration of private gardening in Australia since 1788. Presenting more than 100 paintings, engravings, sketches and photographs from the collections of the National Library of Australia, it offers a pictorial tour through two centuries of gardening history.

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Nora Heysen

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Nora Heysen’s (1911–2003) life has been driven by an unwavering passion for art. This publication brings together Heysen’s work from her early years as a young 16-year-old art student in the 1920s, to the rare, masterly confidence of her later years. As Lou Klepac writes, ’what may appear as a simple still life is in fact a miraculous moment.’

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Eyes to the Future

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Eyes to the Future explores the social customs, social conditions, encounters with Australia's neighbours, eminent people, strange episodes, the operation of justice, royalty, romance, dissent and much more about Australian colonies in the 1870s.

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A Window in the Dark

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Dymphna Cusack became one of Australia's best-known authors. But before that she was one of New South Wales' most interesting and controversial teachers. Here published for the first time is Dymphna Cusack's description of her own education and years as a teacher in the cities and towns of New South Wales: Neutral Bay, Broken Hill, Goulburn, Parramatta, Canberra, Sydney again and Newcastle.

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This Errant Lady

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Jane Franklin's diary provides a detailed and colourful snapshot of colonial society, recorded by a sharply observant witness. An intrepid traveller, Jane Franklin was consumed by an unquenchable curiosity. She looked, questioned, listened and wrote—pages and pages of miniscule notes on every topic that came to hand.

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Rosemary Dobson: A celebration

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This collection of essays pays tribute to acclaimed Australian poet, Rosemary Dobson, whose papers are held in the National Library. It traces a remarkable career, spanning more than six decades and examines Rosemary Dobson's lifelong engagement with art, as reflected in her 'painting poems'.

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Ruth Park: A Celebration

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Ruth Park was born in Auckland, New Zealand, the daughter of a pioneering bridge builder and road maker. She has won many literary awards. Her best known works are the novels The Harp in the South and Playing Beatie Bow. This book celebrates her achievements and contribution to Australian literature.

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A Sporting Nation: Celebrating Australia's Sporting Life

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Featuring, among others: Mina Wylie • Don Bradman, the 'Bodyline' Test series, Bill O'Reilly • Jack Brabham • Hubert Opperman • Alex Jesaulenko • Adrian Quist, Margaret Court • Phar Lap, the Melbourne Cup Bernard ('Midget') Farrelly • Em McQuillan, Vic Patrick • 'Gelignite' jack Murray • Melbourne Olympics 1956 and Sydney Olympics 2000

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Real Folk

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John Meredith has spent over half of his lifetime doggedly tracking down and recording Australian traditional music and verse. Armed with his camera, tape recorder and notebook, Meredith has photographed and recorded over 700 performers throughout Australia.

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Governors' Wives In Colonial Australia

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Governors' Wives in Colonial Australia explores how five viceregal women—Eliza Darling, Jane Franklin, Mary Anne Broome, Elizabeth Loch and Audrey Tennyson—fulfilled their role. Drawing on letters, diaries and journals, Governors' Wives in Colonial Australia provides an account of the role of viceregal women in colonial life.

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Artists' Portraits

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Published with the assistance of the Morris West Trust Fund, Artists' Portraits features discussions with twenty-six Australian artists, none of them living except in their work, talking about themselves and what they have drawn, painted, or sculpted. They speak for themselves as no one else can.

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Malaguna Road

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When Australian anthropologist E.W.P. Chinnery took his young Irish bride, Sarah, to Port Moresby in 1921, she did not imagine that the island of New Guinea would become her home for the next 16 years. Already a keen photographer, Sarah began recording her experiences in a daily diary.

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Facing Percy Grainger

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Percy Aldridge Grainger (1882-1961) was a celebrated pianist and composer of over 1200 works and arrangements, a pioneering folklore collector, musical inventor, conductor, social commentator and archivist, whose extraordinary life was played out across Australia, Europe and America.

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David Malouf a Celebration

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David Malouf: a Celebration, brings together three essays that pay tribute to one of Australia's leading writers. The engaging voices of David Malouf's friends who are also fellow authors' speak of their varied and unique experiences of Malouf and his art.

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Taken at Tilba

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W.H. Corkhill (1846-1936) documented many aspects of the inhabitants of the tiny twin settlements of Tilba Tilba and Central Tilba,on the south coast of New South Wales— farming, gold mining, shipbuilding and road making — and their rich and varied social life. His rapport with his sitters draws the observer into their world.

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The Difficulties of My Position

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J.B. Castieau was the governor of both Beechworth and Melbourne gaols as well as, somewhat disastrously, the Inspector-General of Penal Establishments. Well-educated, fond of the theatre, frequently in debt, impulsively generous, self-doubting and of unsteady habits' in his cups, he knew many of the prominent characters of 'Marvellous Melbourne'.

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James Cook

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This introduction to the Library's bicentenary exhibition on Captain James Cook has been prepared on behalf of the National Library Council to honour the occasion of the unveiling, in the Library, by Her Majesty The Queen, of a model of the Endeavour, the gift to Australia from the Government and People of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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BIRDS! cover image

This exhibition is about birds that fly and sing in the Australian imagination. Its images may vividly remind us of the birds that live in the world around us, but they also trace our changing attitudes to birds and our practical, scientific and artistic uses of birds.

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In Honour of Sir John Ferguson

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An exhibition in honour of Sir John Ferguson, arranged by the National Library of Australia for the thirteenth biennial conference of the Library Association of Australia. Displayed in the A. L. G. McDonald Room, R. G. Menzies Building, Australian National University Library, Canberra, August 23-30, 1965.

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Fears and Phobias: E.l. Piesse and the problem of Japan

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Fears and Phobias: E.L. Piesse and the Problem of Japan 1909-39 is the first in the National Library of Australia Occasional Papers Series. This inaugural volume is a portrait of a key author of Australian defence policy and an account of a period in Australia's history when Japan's intentions, real or imagined, were of great importance

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Crossing the Pacific

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On 31 May 1928 the Australian airmen, Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm, together with two Americans, the navigator Harry Lyon and the radio operator Jim Warner, left San Francisco on the first flight to Australia across the Pacific Ocean.

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The Autobiography of John Shaw Neilson

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The National Library of Australia acquired in 1964 a collection of papers about the poet John Shaw Neilson, including a series of autobiographical letters never before published. Neilson's autobiography is an important social and literary document, illustrating how fugitive and inexplicable are the sources of art.

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The People's Treasures

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The People's Treasures provides a tempting insight into the richness of the collections held in the National Library of Australia. While celebrating the collections of the Library, this book pays tribute both directly and indirectly to the many and various ways in which they have been developed and enriched.

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The Challicum Sketch Book: 1842-53

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The nineteenth century squatter and painter Duncan Elphinstone Cooper spent about thirteen years of his life in the Western District of Victoria where he painted the fifty-four pictures presented in this volume. Most of these are from Cooper's The Challicum Sketch Book, now a treasured part of the collections of the National Library of Australia; the paintings deal almost exclusively with the grazing property of that name — from tent to house and beyond.

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The Gundagai Album

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In 1971 the National Library of Australia was given some 900 glass negatives of Gundagai. Of the collection found by chance, 120 selected plates are reproduced in this book. The photographs were taken at the turn of the century and are believed to be the work of Charles Louis Gabriel, a doctor who added an exotic French flavour to that loyal bastion of the British Empire, Gundagai.

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Henry Handel Richardson

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This bibliography records printed works and also a range of other source materials including images and the writer's original manuscripts held in the National Library of Australia. Published to honour the centenary of Henry Handel Richardson's birth in 1870 it aims to cover all aspects of her life and work.

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Australian Autobiographical Narratives

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Australian Autobiographical Narratives is a fascinating and comprehensive guide to published Australian autobiographical writing dealing with the period to 1850. In the words of Joy Hooton, autobiographies are uniquely valuable sources providing an 'insight into the varieties of knowing nineteenth-century Australia as its European settlers knew it'.

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The Lycett Album

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Joseph Lycett (c. 1775-1828) was convicted of forgery and transported to Australia in 1814. During the period he spent in the colony Lycett recorded many aspects of the life and landscape of Australia. The album of watercolour sketches reproduced here contains one of the few series of works which document the life and use of the land by Aboriginal people in the early colonial period.

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Thomas Keneally: A Celebration

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Thomas Keneally's reputation as a storyteller, established in the 1960s, has been cemented by a series of publications; fiction, history, memoir and social comment that has brought him international fame and national esteem. This collection of three essays is a fitting tribute to one of Australia's most engaging writers.

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Daisy in Exile

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This charming, spirited, at times sad and always intensely personal, account of Daisy White's teenage life on the other side of the world, has been thoughtfully annotated and studied in a long introduction by the editor, Marc Serge Riviere,

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Show Man: The Photography of Frank Hurley

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The photographer Frank Hurley (1885-1962) is a legendary figure in Australian cultural history, This book is an account of Hurley's 'showmanship', that is, his professional sense of performance and display, and accompanied an exhibition of his work in 1990.

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2.5Mb pdf

Alan Moorehead a rediscovery

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In this volume of the National Library's biography series An Australian Life, Ann Moyal brilliantly illuminates the passion and creative energy which drove Alan Moorehead's life and work. Moorehead was one of Australia's most adventurous and celebrated writers and his work remains a vitally important part of our literature.

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The Angry Penguin

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The Angry Penguin: Selected Poems of Max Harris presents a rich sampling of poems written throughout Max Harris's life, from the early poems of his youth to the more contemplative poems of his later years.

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Xanadu Encounters With China

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Xanadu Encounters with China was a very special exhibition for the National Library of Australia, drawing on the Library's maps, pictures, rare books and, most notably, its Asian material. Covering some 450 years of engagement, the exhibition revealed the way Western perceptions of China have evolved, moving from stereotypes to a more expansive understanding of the culture, society and people of that great nation.

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People, Print & Paper

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The National Library's major public contribution to the Australian Bicentenary was the travelling exhibition, People, Print & Paper. Celebrating two hundred years of Australian books, this exhibition and the accompanying catalogue bring together a collection of books which gives a fascinating insight into an aspect of Australian life and character which is often overlooked.

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Three Streets in Search of an Author

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The first in the Education Pamphlet Series from the National Library of Australia, featuring Alan Gould. These pamphlets were linked to a lecture series which aimed to introduce the work of Australian writers represented in the Library's collections.

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Listen For a Moment

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From convict days, through the eras of bushrangers and drovers, to more recent, more urban times, Australians have expressed their experiences of life and work through ballads and folk songs. Listen for a Moment: A Small Book of Australian Ballads contains some old favourites as well as previously unpublished works.

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Backroom Briefings

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Backroom Briefings shows a Prime Minister acute in analysis, vigorous in language and confident of his decisions—a unique insight into the qualities and style of a man whose political career and prime ministership have, until now, been poorly documented.

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Dark and Hurrying Days

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Dark and Hurrying Days is the text of a diary kept by Robert Menzies, then Prime Minister of Australia, of his experiences during a wartime trip to England in 1941. It was a grim time when British cities were enduring heavy bombing and German invasion seemed imminent. Menzies' Diary reveals the shifting feelings and fears which these experiences engendered in him, and is of prime importance in capturing the brooding spirit of this grim time.

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Twinkle Twinkle Southern Cross

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Twinkle Twinkle Southern Cross, published with the assistance of the Morris West Trust Fund, combines scholarship and entertainment as it wanders many a crooked mile through the made-to-order folklore of Australia's own nursery rhymes. Examples from as early as 1854 and extending to the present day are examined in a wide-ranging context of Australian literary and publishing history

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Light That Time Has Made

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Light That Time Has Made is a collection of essays and reviews written by Paul Hasluck in the years before his death in 1993. A country boy, and son of Salvation Army parents, Paul Hasluck brings to his task of social observation an extraordinary, and unique, background—journalist, poet, drama critic, war historian, author, publisher, anthropologist, public servant, diplomat, parliamentarian, federal Minister, Governor- General.

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Audrey Tennyson's Vice-Regal Days

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Audrey Tennyson's Vice-Regal Days edited by Alexandra Hasluck, from the extensive collection of Tennyson papers in the National Library of Australia. The book is fortunate in its editor, for Lady Hasluck, besides being a skilled historian, brought to the task the experience and insights of one who was herself the wife of a former Governor-General of Australia.

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Australia's Lost films

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Australia's Lost Films was published by the National Library of Australia to coincide with THE LAST FILM SEARCH, a project to find as many of these important films as possible and commit them to the care of the National Film and Sound Archive. But with its many photographs and a complete checklist of silent feature films 1896-1930, the book stands as an important record of a necessarily little known part of Australia's cinematic past.

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Diplomatic Despatches From a Son to His Mother

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Diplomatic Despatches is a fast-paced, engaging and revealing account by an observant commentator. Mason's letters follow a fascinating and eventful career, from his entry into the army as a teenager to his work as an experienced and accomplished diplomat, culminating in his appointment as British High Commissioner in Canberra.

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Portraits in Science

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Twelve of Australia's leading scientists speak about their lives and their work. They convey the variety, excitement and accomplishment of science, explore its processes and reveal its challenges. Together their informal stories illuminate a remarkable landscape of science in Australia and shed fascinating light on the formative influences that have shaped these men and women towards a life in science.

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Self Portraits

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Fifteen well-known Australian writers from the National Library's Hazel de Berg collection of recorded interviews speak of their lives and of their writing. In an irreverent introduction to his personal selection, novelist David Foster mordantly sets these writers in a contemporary perspective while underscoring the value of a great national oral history collection.

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The Reflecting Eye

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As the first National Portrait Gallery travelling exhibition, The Reflecting Eye: Portraits of Australian Visual Artists represents an important milestone in the history of Australia's National Portrait Gallery. Guest curator Helen Ennis has assembled a lively exhibition of portraits of painters, printmakers and photographers from the turn of the century to the 1990s.

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With Fond Regards

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Edited by noted writer Elizabeth Riddell, and drawn exclusively from the National Library's Manuscript collection,With Fond Regards holds many secrets. Some are exposed, others remain inviolate. The letters which comprise this intimate book allow us passage into a private world, a world of love letters in locked drawers and postmarks from afar.

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Petr Herel Artist Books

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Although this National Library exhibition concentrated on Herel's books, it included examples of all his work and thereby charts his artistic development. In integrating related drawings and prints with his books, created from a range of materials, this show reflected the breadth of his work. Most of all it demonstrates Herel's boundless imaginative resources.

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Beyond Chinatown

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Beyond Chinatown is based partly on European documents, official reports, newspaper articles, Administrators' letters and contemporary theses. But its major storytellers are the Chinese Australians themselves who, through oral history, family stories, photographs and their own accounts, place themselves in the mainstream of Australian history.

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Cage of Ghosts

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Jon Rhodes was the recipient of an H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship at the Australian National University in 2006. For four months he lived in Canberra and researched the history of all the places he had photographed for this National Library exhibition. The book, Cage of Ghosts,was published in late 2008.

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A Modern Vision

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This catalogue was published on the occasion of the exhibition A Modern Vision: Charles Bayliss, Photographer, 1850–1897, curated by guest curator Helen Ennis. The exhibition was on display at the National Library of Australia from 11 July to 26 October 2008.

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Bridging the Distance

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This publication and the exhibition it accompanied draw on the National Library of Australia’s collection to reveal how, as a nation, we have dealt with the physical distances that separate us—and which characterise our continent. The exhibition of Bridging the Distance, was on display at the National Library of Australia from 6 March to 15 June 2008

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